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How to use external storage drives on Chromebook

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Like conventional laptops, Chromebooks also support external drives like USB sticks, optical drives, hard drives, and more.


CD-R discs

Although Chromebooks are primarily designed to work with the Internet, sooner or later you will have to use data stored on external drives, whether optical, USB, or hard. You can easily use such storage drives with your Chromebook. Here’s how.

Optical discs are read-only

You may want to read data from optical discs, such as CD-ROMs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs. You can use an external USB optical drive to read them, but they will have some limitations.

You will only be able to use data discs and you will only be able to read them, not write new data. You would not be able to watch a DVD movie on your Chromebook because Chrome OS does not come with the necessary codecs to compress and decompress the data.

Old data CD-R with iTunes music open in Chromebook

As more people migrate to the cloud for data storage as well as using media streaming services for video and music, this is a lesser limitation than it would not have been ten years ago.

If you need to write files to an external local drive, your best bet is an external hard drive or USB flash drive.

To use one of these drives, you can simply plug them into the USB ports on your Chromebook just like you would on any other computer. Chromebooks have the drivers for reading and writing to these built-in drives. With the Files app, you can drag and drop files to the player.

Chromebooks can read FAT32 file systems, which is standard on most USB drives. They can also read NTFS and HFS + from macOS, although the latter is read-only on a journaled file system, as is the case with optical drives. So if you need to exchange files with other people, FAT32 may be the best option as it works on many different systems.

Related: NTFS, FAT, exFAT: Windows 10 File Systems Explained

You can connect external drives to your Chromebook

While you can store more files in the cloud, you can connect external drives to your Chromebook when you need them. There are even more ways to upgrade local storage if you feel the need to.


Hard disk
How to Upgrade Storage on a Chromebook

Running out of space on your Chromebook? Here’s what you need to know about expanding storage when you need it.

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